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Thursday, December 29, 2011

WALNUT CRUSTED SALMON AND SPINACH WITH BUTTERMILK CHEESE SAUCE

A friend came to help me decorate for Christmas, and while she hung, strung and made my house beautiful, I cooked dinner.
The dishes have been cleared and the decorations put away, but the recipe remains.

WALNUT CRUSTED SALMON AND SPINACH WITH BUTTERMILK CHEESE SAUCE


BUTTERMILK CHEESE SAUCE
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
2 tabelspoons half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon pepper
WALNUT CRUSTED SALMON
1 lightly beaten egg
1/3 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
4 salmon fillets
1 package fresh baby spinach

BUTTERMILK CHEESE SAUCE
Combine walnuts and buttermilk in a small bowl, refrigerate 8 hours to overnight. Puree walnut-buttermilk mixture, feta cheese, half-and-half and pepper until smooth.
WALNUT CRUSTED SALMON
Heat oven to 400F.
Place egg in shallow bowl. On a plate, mix together the walnuts and bread crumbs. Dip all sides of salmon except skin side in egg, then in walnut mixture. Place on a baking sheet covered with nonstick foil, skin side down. Bake 11 to 13 minutes or until desired doneness. Just before salmon is done, rinse spinach and microwave on high for 2 minutes or until wilted, set aside and drain.
To serve, divide spinach among four dinner plates, top with salmon, skin side down. Serve sauce with salmon.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Arkansas Democrat Gazette, January 2006

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

BARBECUE SHRIMP and SMOKED GOUDA GRITS

My husband grew up close to New Orleans, right by all that fabulous food, and he gave this recipe very good reviews. It was delicious, and fun to dip the french bread into the rich and tasty sauce.

BARBECUE SHRIMP and SMOKED GOUDA GRITS


BARBECUE SHRIMP
2 lemons, cut into wedges
1 cup butter, melted
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup worcestershire sauce
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon thyme
4 pounds of unpeeled, large raw shrimp

Heat oven to 400F.
Stir together first 9 ingredients. Place shrimp in a broiler pan, pour lemon mixture over shrimp.
Bake for 35 minutes, or just until shrimp turn pink, stirring every 10 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Serve with lemon wedges, french bread and smoked gouda grits.

SMOKED GOUDA GRITS
6 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups uncooked quick-cooking grits
8 ounces of smoked gouda cheese, shredded
3 tablespoons butter

Bring chicken broth, milk, salt, and pepper to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, gradually whisk in grits.
Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes or until thickened. Stir in cheese and butter until melted.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, July 2009
www.southernliving.com/

Friday, December 23, 2011

CURRIED SPICED BUTTERNUT AND SWEET BANANA SOUP

A friend was in town for the holidays, and came for lunch. I was so excited to see her, and wanted something quick and easy, so I would have lots of time to visit. I did get busy chatting, and forgot to blend in the cilantro and lime juice, but it was still yummy, as was the polenta rosemary pumpkin seed sourdough bread from Ozark Natural Breads, that I served it with.

CURRIED SPICED BUTTERNUT AND SWEET BANANA SOUP


1 butternut squash, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons butter
1 ripe banana, unpeeled
1/2 onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup coconut milk (I use the light)
1 cup chicken stock
fresh cilantro leaves
lime juice to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 350F.
Sprinkle diced squash with brown sugar, honey and 2 tablespoons butter. Roast until caramelized and soft to the touch - about 20 minutes. Roast the unpeeled banana in the oven at the same time.
Melt the other 2 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan on medium heat. Sweat the onion, celery and carrot for a few minutes until tender. Add the garlic, curry powder, coriander, nutmeg and cinnamon, and cook slowly for a few more minutes.
Remove the banana from its skin, slice, and add it with the butternut to the pan, along with the coconut milk and chicken broth. Simmer until hot. Blend the soup with a blender until smooth. Adjust to consistency desired with more broth, if necessary. Add fresh cilantro, lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Blend again until smooth.
Pour soup into bowls and garnish with fresh cilantro.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Morning News, October 2004

Thursday, December 22, 2011

MINI GINGERBREAD CAKES WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

Friends have a fabulous wine tasting party every year - usually I take an appetizer, but because I knew we would be arriving late, I decided a dessert would be more appropriate. These were the perfect little bite to end the night.

MINI GINGERBREAD CAKES WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING


CAKES
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
3/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup plain yogurt
FROSTING
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened

CAKES
Heat oven to 350F. Line mini muffin cups with paper liners.
Whisk flour and next 4 ingredients in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl to blend.
Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then molasses and yogurt (batter may look curdled). Add dry ingredients and beat to blend, scraping down sides of bowl.
Drop 1 tablespoon batter into each paper liner. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, 12 - 14 minutes. Let cakes stand in pan on rack 5 minutes. Remove cakes from pan, cool.
FROSTING
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar and butter in a medium bowl to blend. Spread frosting generously over each cake. Garnish with chopped ginger.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, December 2010
www.bonappetit.com/

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

CARAMEL DIP

This recipe was given to me by my mother, who in turn got it from a lady in her walking group. It was so good, I could have eaten it right out of the bowl.
I used a lemon pudding mix in the place of the vanilla - because that was what I had on hand. But I didn't think it was quite as good as the original recipe - either way I imagine it would take quite a lot of walking to counteract the calories consumed - but it is definitely worth it.

CARAMEL DIP


8 ounces cream cheese
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 cup milk
small package of instant vanilla pudding mix

Beat together the cream cheese, and brown sugar until smooth. Add the sour cream, vanilla, lemon juice milk and vanilla pudding mix one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Chill at least one hour. Serve with fruit, plain cookies, and/or marshmallows.
Enjoy!

Monday, December 19, 2011

ROASTED CRANBERRY SAUCE WITH HERBED CANDIED WALNUTS

I made this for the first time at Thanksgiving, with my patient and sweet family as the taste testers. I loved the idea of roasting the cranberries, as I think this cooking method brings out the most delicious flavors of any ingredient.

ROASTED CRANBERRY SAUCE WITH HERBED CANDIED WALNUTS



CRANBERRIES
1 pound of fresh cranberries
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons walnut oil
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh sage, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup red wine mixed with 2 tablespoons water
HERBED CANDIED WALNUTS
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons red wine
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh sage, finely chopped

CRANBERRIES
Heat oven to 425F.
Mix first 7 ingredients on heavy rimmed baking sheet. Roast until edges begin to bubble, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven, maintain oven temperature. Bring wine mixture to boil in small saucepan. Stir into cranberry mixture. Roast until juices bubble and cranberries shrivel, stirring occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Transfer to a medium bowl, cover and chill until cold, about 2 hours.
HERBED CANDIED WALNUTS
Heat oven to 425F.
Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Stir sugar and wine in small saucepan over medium heat until syrupy, about 3 minutes. Stir in walnuts and herbs. Transfer mixture to sheet, spreading out and separating nuts. Roast until nuts are brown, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool, break up any clumps of nuts.
Add nuts to cranberry mixture.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine, November 2010
www.foodandwine.com/

Thursday, December 15, 2011

BOURBON BROWNIES

This yummy mix of brownie and blondie was delicious and perfect for gifting to friends and neighbors.

BOURBON BROWNIES


2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons bourbon
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350F.
Grease a 9-inch square baking pan with butter.
Combine sugar and butter in a medium saucepan and heat until butter melts. Stir well and combine.
Whisk together eggs, vanilla and bourbon in a small bowl.
Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixer bowl. Add butter mixture and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips.
Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 4o minutes. Cool completely and cut into squares.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Relish, 2007
www.relish.com/

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

MERRY CHRISTMAS


I discovered this Gin a while back, and LOVED it!! I don't usually enjoy gin, and could never understand the attraction my husband had to a refreshing gin and tonic on a hot summers day - until Brandons!!
I then came to find out it is made right here in Arkansas, at the first legal distillery in this state - and everything is sourced from Arkansas - the grains, barrels, boxes, labels - everything!!
I am very excited to try their vodka and they also make Arkansas Lightning (unaged whiskey) and Arkansas young bourbon whiskey.
We recently hosted a dinner party and I wanted to start with a fun, seasonal cocktail - this simple, delicious mix was perfect. A festive start to a fabulous evening!!

MERRY CHRISTMAS


1 ounce gin
1 ounce cranberry juice
1 teaspoon lemon juice
club soda

Pour gin and juices into glass filled with ice, stir, top with club soda.
Garnish with cranberries.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from About.Com Cocktails
cocktails.about.com/

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

FETA SALMON CAKES

Tasty, quick and light. Great for this time of year. This was our main meal, paired with a spinach salad, but you could also serve these as a first course, or it would be fun to reduce their size and serve them as an appetizer.
Also, you could substitute other cheese for the feta if you wanted.

FETA SALMON CAKES


2 (5 ounce) cans of salmon
1 green onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
pinch ground red pepper
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1/3 tube crackers, finely crushed
1 egg
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

In a medium bowl, combine salmon, green onion, parsley, ground red pepper, salt, black pepper and cracker crumbs and mix well.
Add egg and mix well. Divide mixture into 12 equal portions.
Shape 2 portions into a patty around a tablespoon of feta cheese. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Heat enough oil to generously coat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add salmon cakes and cook, about 6 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Serve immediately.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, September 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

RASPBERRY BRIE TARTS

I wanted to take an appetizer to a friends birthday party, but my day ended up being much busier than I had anticipated. I didn't have time to make what I had originally planned but I remembered the tarts my sister-in-law had graciously and effortlessly whipped up for us when we last visited her beautiful Texas home.

RASPBERRY BRIE TARTS



10 slices white bread
5 ounces of brie, cut into cubes
raspberry jam

Heat oven to 375F.
Grease a 20 hole mini-muffin pan.
Flatten the slices of bread with a rolling pin, then cut out circles with a cookie cutter. Press the circles into the mini-muffin pan.
Brush with melted butter, bake for 7-8 minutes, until toasted.
Take the pieces of bread out of the muffin pans, place them on a cookie sheet. Fill with pieces of brie and raspberry jam.
Place back in oven for 4-5 minutes until the cheese is melted.
Enjoy!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

SWEET POTATO PUDDING WITH PECAN GINGERSNAP TOPPING and PARSNIP POTATO MASH

I made the sweet potato pudding at Thanksgiving - it was tasty, but unfortunately I was missing a few ingredients, and was disappointed not to have them.
I made the mash for a dinner party we had recently, and loved it. I adore the sweetness of the parsnips, and was delighted that I could do the dish ahead of time and then pop it in the oven right before it was time to eat - stress free entertaining.

SWEET POTATO PUDDING WITH PECAN GINGERSNAP TOPPING


TOPPING
3/4 cup coarsely chopped gingersnaps
1/2 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes

PUDDING
3 pounds sweet potatoes, scrubbed
3/4 cup half and half
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
1 3/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
4 large egg yolks
5 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

TOPPING
Toss first four ingredients in medium bowl. Add butter, using fingertips, rub in until well blended. Cover, chill.
PUDDING
Heat oven to 400F.
Roast potatoes on baking sheet until tender, 45 to 60 minutes. Cool, cut in half lengthwise. Scoop flesh into bowl, mash. Transfer four cups potatoes to large bowl.
Reduce heat to 350F.
Butter a 13 by 9 inch baking dish. Add half and half and next five ingredients to potatoes. Using mixer, beat on low speed until blended. Season with salt and pepper. Add yolks one at a time, blending after each additon. Using clean dry beaters, beat whites in another large bowl until foamy. Add salt and cream of tartar. Beat until peaks form. Fold whites into potatoes, spoon into dish. Sprinkle with topping.
Bake pudding until puffed and brown, about 45 minutes. Serve immediately.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, November 2010
www.bonappetit.com/

PARSNIP POTATO MASH


6 tablespoons butter, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cups finely chopped onion
1 1/2 pounds parsnips, peeled and cubed
1 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups chicken broth
4 tablespoons cream cheese
4 tablespoons rosemary, chopped
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

Melt 3 tablespoons butter with oil in a large pot, over medium heat. Add onion, saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add parsnips, potatoes and garlic, stir 8 minutes. Add broth, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat. Simmer until vegetables are tender, and broth is almost cooked away, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat, add cream cheese, mash until smooth. Stir in two tablespoons rosemary, season with salt and pepper.
Butter an 11 by 7 glass baking dish, transfer mash to prepared dish.
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in small skillet over medium heat. Add panko and stir until golden brown, about 2 minutes.
Position rack in top third of oven, heat oven to 350F.
Sprinkle panko mixture over mash. Bake until top is brown, about 15 minutes, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons rosemary.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, November 2010
www.bonappetit.com/

Saturday, December 10, 2011

CHICKEN AND CHEESE EMPANADAS

I made these as a quick snack one night before going out, and as an appetizer for a recent dinner party. These are adorable and tasty, and definitely worth trying.

CHICKEN AND CHEESE EMPANADAS



2 cups chicken breasts, shredded or finely chopped
1 cup shredded cheese
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1 package of ready to use refrigerated pie crusts
1 teaspoon chili powder

Heat oven to 375F.
Combine first four ingredients. Whisk egg and water until well blended.
Unroll pie crusts on lightly floured surface. Cut each crust into 8 (4 inch) circles. Place on parchment-covered baking sheets. Spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons of chicken mixture onto center of each circle, brush edge with egg. Fold dough circles in half. Press tops lightly to remove excess air, seal edges with fork. Brush tops with remaining egg. Sprinkle with chili powder.
Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food and Family
www.kraftrecipes.com

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

BRUSCHETTA WITH BLUE CHEESE AND ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH and ASPARAGUS CROSTINI

Here are a couple of appetizer ideas - I made the bruschetta for a recent dinner party and the crostini when my brother was in town - both so fun and festive and great for a crowd.

BRUSCHETTA WITH BLUE CHEESE AND ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH


1 small butternut squash
olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 french baguette, thinly sliced
4 ounces crumbled blue cheese
12 oregano leaves

Heat oven to 350F.
Peel butternut squash, remove seeds and dice flesh into 1 cm chunks. Place on an oven tray. Drizzle with oil and add a good sprinkle of salt and pepper. Roast 20 minutes or until tender and starting to brown.
Toast bread and brush lightly with oil. Spread with blue cheese, top with butternut squash. Broil until cheese just begins to melt, garnish with oregano and serve.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from New Zealand House and Garden

ASPARAGUS CROSTINI


1 pound asparagus
1/2 pound smoked salmon
1 wedge of brie
1 baguette, sliced into 1/2 inch slices
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

Heat oven to 350F.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper, or foil. Place slices of baguette on pan, lightly drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for about 5 to 7 minutes, until golden.
Cut trimmed asparagus into 2 inch pieces, blanch in rapidly boiling salted water for about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from water and cool.
To assemble, place a piece of brie on top of the crostini, then top with a piece of salmon (I cut mine into rounds) and two pieces of asparagus. Garnish with fresh cracked pepper if desired.
Enjoy!

Monday, December 5, 2011

OATMEAL CRANBERRY DROPS

My daughter and I made these cookies a couple of years ago, and she often asks to make them again. Being a quiet Sunday, it was the perfect time to bake up a batch of these delicious treats - perfect for the holiday season, and to share with friends.

OATMEAL CRANBERRY DROPS


1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons orange zest
3 cups quick oats
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries

Heat oven to 350F.
Combine flour, baking soda and salt.
Beat butter and sugars in electric mixer until creamy. Beat in eggs, vanilla and orange zest. Beat in flour mixture. Stir in oatmeal, one cup at a time, add chocolate chips and cranberries. Drop batter by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes.
Enjoy!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

LEMON CHICKEN WITH GREEN BEANS AND MUSHROOMS

This was a fabulous, one pan meal - perfect and delicious for this busy time of year. I loved that it was so simple, but elegant, and the sauce was divine!!
I felt like I had date night without leaving the house.

LEMON CHICKEN WITH GREEN BEANS AND MUSHROOMS


1 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons white wine
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon herbes de provence
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound green beans, trimmed
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced

Whisk broth, lemon juice, wine, flour, herbes de Provence, salt and pepper in a medium bowl, set aside.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 5 minutes. Remove to a plate. Add beans and mushrooms to pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Return chicken and any juices to pan. Pour broth mixture over top. Cover and simmer until chicken is thoroughly cooked and vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Relish
www.relish.com/

Friday, December 2, 2011

PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES

I made these for my husband and son to take to their Boy Scout meeting - it was a good thing this recipe makes a ton, because many of them were devoured before they could make it to the meeting!!

PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES


1 cup butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter, creamy or chunky
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 package chocolate chunks

Heat oven to 350F.
Beat butter and peanut butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy, gradually add sugars, beating well. Add egg and vanilla, beat well.
Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to butter mixture, beat at low speed until well blended. Stir in chocolate chunks.
Drop cookie dough by scant tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto cookie sheet.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until edges of cookies are brown.
Enjoy!